Tag Archives: fresh mozzarella

Ricotta & Artichoke Pasta

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

What makes an already fast dinner even faster? Cooking the entire dish in one pan and that is exactly what you have with this recipe that has been adapted from Cooking Light. The fresh pasta cooks quickly right in the skillet with the vegetables and the cheese. Easy peasy and oh so tasty. Enjoy!

RICOTTA & ARTICHOKE PASTA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup prechopped onion
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups artichokes, halved
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 – 14.5 ounce can tomatoes
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  •  Preheat broiler to high.
  •  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat.
  • Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic to pan and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chicken broth, the artichokes, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and pasta to pan, and bring to a boil. Stir to combine.
  • Cover; reduce the heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until pasta is tender.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and dot the pasta mixture evenly with the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
  • Place pan under broiler. Broil mixture 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
  • Sprinkle evenly with basil.

Serves 4

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Pesto Chicken Bake

DSC_0188

It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This time of year fresh pesto is a regular staple in my refrigerator.  This simple basil and garlic sauce can easily turn pantry basics from ho-hum to fantastic.  When you add ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to the dish you have a new twist on a classic Caprese salad.  Chicken is by far my favorite protein to pair with pesto.  For the sake of time I use chicken filets in this recipe. If you don’t have filets you can make your own by slicing whole boneless chicken breasts lengthwise .  Simply use a meat mallet to pound them to a uniform thickness after slicing and you are good to go.

PESTO CHICKEN BAKE

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 chicken breast filets

2 large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into slices

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Place the olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt, and pepper evenly over both sides of the chicken breast filets.
  • Working in batches, quickly brown the chicken on both sides, placing the cooked chicken in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
  • Spread the pesto over the top of the chicken.
  • Evenly distribute the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella over the top of the chicken.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Garlicky Flat Bread Panzanella Salad

 

 photo 3-206

I love panzanella, the classic Italian bread salad. With ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and crusty bread it is hard not to love it and I’ve been known to eat a bowlful or two as dinner on a hot summer evening. But sometimes even the most classic of recipes needs to be kicked up a notch. And with that you have a garlicky flat bread panzanella that was inspired by the Yankee Kitchen Ninja.

Flat bread is easy enough to make from scratch but my local grocery store carries a fabulous garlic and olive oil drenched one that is just too good to resist. When warm, the bread is perfect for absorbing the juices of the salad. For added color I like to use multi-colored grape tomatoes but feel free to use whatever flavorful variety you prefer. And because the beans add an added burst of protein, with a glass of Chianti, this salad is substantial enough for a light dinner on a hot summer night. Enjoy.

GARLICKY FLAT BREAD PANZANELLA SALAD

2 small garlic flat breads, heated in the oven and cut into bite-sized pieces

Scant 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup pickling cucumbers, cut into coins

2 pints grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup orecchiette shaped fresh mozzarella or other small balls, drained

1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed

1/4 cup sliced green onion

  • Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the flat breads on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into bite sized pieces.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, beans, green onion and stir to combine.
  • Add the flat bread, toss well and serve immediately.

Serves 3-4

Caprese Chicken Pasta

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This dish is fast, easy, and celebrates two of the season’s most flavorful products, fresh tomatoes and basil.  Although I have yet to be able to successfully grow my own tomatoes, they are readily available a markets throughout the area.  And because I always have a container of fresh basil growing nearby, this is one of my favorite, go-to dinners. The components cook in a matter of minutes and taste great both hot and at room temperature so you can either cook it now and enjoy it immediately or let it sit a bit until you are ready to eat.

CAPRESE CHICKEN PASTA

1 pound dried shells, penne, or other small pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

Salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Drain and set aside.
  • Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and the garlic cloves and stirring occasionally, cook until the chicken is lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.
  • Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and thyme to the pan.  Toss well to combine.
  • Serve the chicken mixture over the reserved pasta.
  • Drizzle each dish with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil before serving.

Serves 4

Marinated Bocconcini

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Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes are natural partners but when you throw in a few olives and some capers you have Mediterranean extravaganza in a bowl.  This salad, from The Cheese Course by Janet Fletcher is super easy and tasty too.  Fresh oregano is a departure from the typical basil that is usually paired with this cheese and vegetable combination.  The oregano give the dish an earthy touch but you could easily use an equal amount of basil if you wish.  I’ve served this dish as both a salad as well as an appetizer; allow guests to spear their cheese and tomatoes with toothpicks and everyone will be happy. Enjoy!

MARINATED BOCCONCINI

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound bocconcini, well drained

1 tablespoon capers, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup black oil cured olives

  • In a small saucepan heat the oil, garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes over medium heat until the garlic sizzles and just begins to color, 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Place the bocconcini in a bowl and cover with the seasoned oil.  Add the capers and parsley, stirring to coat.
  • Cover and let stand for several hours, stirring occasionally.  Just before serving season to taste with salt.
  • Arrange the bocconcini on a serving platter alongside the tomatoes and olives.

Services 6 to 8

Pesto Chicken Bake

DSC_0188

It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This time of year fresh pesto is a regular staple in my refrigerator.  This simple basil and garlic sauce can easily turn pantry basics from ho-hum to fantastic.  When you add ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to the dish you have a new twist on a classic Caprese salad.  Chicken is by far my favorite protein to pair with pesto.  For the sake of time I use chicken filets in this recipe. If you don’t have filets you can make your own by slicing whole boneless chicken breasts lengthwise .  Simply use a meat mallet to pound them to a uniform thickness after slicing and you are good to go.

PESTO CHICKEN BAKE

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 chicken breast filets

2 large tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup pesto

1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into slices

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Place the olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt, and pepper evenly over both sides of the chicken breast filets.
  • Working in batches, quickly brown the chicken on both sides, placing the cooked chicken in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
  • Spread the pesto over the top of the chicken.
  • Evenly distribute the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella over the top of the chicken.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Caprice Pasta

DSC_0182

It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion.  If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This quick dish brings together the best flavors of a Mediterranean summer.  Ripe tomatoes pair with fresh basil and mozzarella to make a flavorful Caprice salad. Add this to pasta and you have a complete meal.  The balsamic reduction brings a rich sweetness to the dish making it fancy enough for a dinner party but also simple enough for a casual meal.

CAPRICE PASTA

1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

1 pound ziti or other tube-shaped pasta

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat until the vinegar boils.  Reduce heat to a temperature that allows the liquid to simmer and continue to cook until the mixture is syrupy and has reduced to approximately 1/4 cup.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the pasta and toss to coat.
  • Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to the pasta and season with salt and pepper.  Stir gently to combine.
  • Divide amongst four serving dishes and drizzle the balsamic reduction evenly over the top of each bowl.
  • Serve immediately

Serves:  4

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